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'Can we go on summer holidays this year?' Greece and Croatia float solutions for sunseekers

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By Stefan Grobe, Sandor Zsiros
APTOPIX Italy Virus Outbreak Europe
APTOPIX Italy Virus Outbreak Europe   -   Copyright  Matthias Schrader/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

As the summer months approach, Europeans are afraid that their cherished beach vacation might be impossible this year.

Not so fast, says the Greek government.

With the argument that the nation has dealt comparatively well with the containment measures, the Athens government is determined to re-open the country for tourists on 1 July.

"We are still formulating the exact medical protocols, but it is quite probable that we will require some kind of testing before the flight in order to ensure peace of mind. We are hoping that the European Union will show the kind of leadership that is required in order to make a pan-European agreement. There are certainly a number of countries that want this and are pushing in this direction. And Greece is first and foremost among those countries. But we cannot wait," says Haris Theoharis, Greek Tourism Minister.

Like other countries in southern Europe, Greece is eager to save its tourism industry from total collapse. If the summer season is missed, the sector's companies, mostly small and medium-sized concerns, face bankruptcy.

So far there are no EU-wide guidelines on how to re-open popular tourist destinations without endangering public health.

Cue one idea from Croatia.

"I think we all talk about a kind of risk-free or risk-reducing certificate. I think it would serve as a benefit for all, not only hosts and personal in hotels, for example, but also for the travellers, for the tourists," explains Davor Bozinovic, Croatian Interior Minister.

Experts are still working on the practical side of the Croatian proposal.

Meanwhile, not everybody is keen on seeing famous tourist spots inundated by huge crowds again.

Allowing summer vacation at times of a global pandemic is taking a huge risk, according to Karima Delli, a Green MEP from France.

"Spreading the virus and travelling around the world does not make real sense under a short-term perspective. It will make more sense to have short trips in the region you live," she says

When internal European borders will ultimately re-open is at the discretion of national governments. But when a vital part of your economy rests on tourism, many nations are under increasing pressure to do it rather sooner than later.